The Doctrine of God
- Pages: 15
- Word count: 3550
- Category: God
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Every nation and every religion has its own notion about the supernatural and divine forces. Thirst for knowledge is embedded by God. Every nation has its own God or gods they worship. Every nation venerate its shrines, some of them worship natural forces, while some of them worship the fundamentals of good and evil, to mention a few. However, the general rule is that the individual strives for the knowledge of God and religious searching is another eloquent testimony to this fact.
Is it possible to cognize God? Why is it so important? The answer is quite simple. True understanding of the Doctrine of God is the basis not only for the systematic theology, but also for our moral development. One can hardly find the mistake or delusion in the person’s religious life that occurred not due to the imperfect or erroneous understanding of the Doctrine of God, and such a judgment is hard to argue with.
The Doctrine of God is one of the most important themes for meditation and examination. It helps the individual to reveal the knowledge of God, inspires him to trust God and to witness Him. In such a way, God becomes closer and more understandable. The aim of this paper is to examine the Doctrine of God within the framework of the book `Foundations of Pentecostal Theology` by Guy P. Duffield & Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve.
The Doctrine of God
- Basis of Christian Knowledge
Theology (Greek, theos – God, and logos – discourse of reason) gives us the understanding of God as well as the relationships between the universe and God. It provides us with the knowledge of matters of divinity and the most important religious doctrines.
The true Christian predominantly reveals the knowledge of God from the Holy Scriptures and the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. At the same time, the true Christian believer denies no confirming evidence from the nature and the universe. Therefore, the knowledge of God is of the primary importance for the Christian believer, because God is the source of sustenance and life, – “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28a)
It is very important to know God. Even the Apostle Paul claimed, – “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth […] that they should seek the Lord […] and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17: 26-27).
- The Knowability of God
- God is Incomprehensible
God is completely different from the creatures He breathed new life into. He has nothing in common with the men’s essence and appearance. God is infinite and incomprehensible, – “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7)
The man’s nature is limited; his mind, vision and hearing are dull and imperfect. In reality, everything the man is able to see is a miserable quantity of the wide variety of world’s colors and possibilities. The man’s mental outlook is also limited. No wonder the man faces so many obstacles on his way to obtain the knowledge of God, because God is incomprehensible, – “On the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:38).
Probably, the man is not prepared enough to cognize God. Whom can the man compare Him with? “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” (Isaiah 40:18 NKJV). Even God confirms this veritable truth through the Holy Scripture, while asking, “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” (Isaiah 40:25 NKJV)
It is inadmissible to attach God some attributes, and, by doing this, to overstep the bounds of allowability. God’s righteousness is “like the great mountains” and His “judgments are a great deep” (Psalm 36:6-7 NKJV). God is incommensurably beyond our inherence and conclusions. God passes our comprehension; therefore, it is impossible to cognize Him, being based on our stereotyped views. We may obtain the knowledge of God, knowing ourselves also, although we are unable to know all His designs and plans and to concise the fullness of His nature.
- But Knowable
God is knowable. He is comprehensible and incomprehensible at once. The Holy Scripture tells about the knowability of God, – “ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son […] who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:1-3). Therefore, it is possible to know God through His Son, because His son is the ‘radiance of His glory and the exact representation” of God. God is revealed through His Son, – “No man has ever seen God but the God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18 NIV). In such a way, God can be cognized by the man to the degree of God’s self-revelation.
The knowledge of God is a necessary precondition for the man to be able experiencing Redemption and to get the eternal life, – “And this is life eternal, that they might now thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3)
- God Can be Cognized Through Revelation
John (5:20) tells that we have the knowledge that the Son of God has come, and has given us the understanding that we “may know Him that is true” (John 5:20). The man has the possibility to reveal the knowledge of God within the course of his life, however, in Heaven’s glory the man will know God in His absolute perfection. – “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
God uncovers his revelation through the unusual way, or, theologically speaking, through supernatural powers. God reveals the knowledge of himself directly or through His angels. Although not every person is able to accept divide revelation, god Himself chooses veritable believers able to accept His revelation. God can give to the man “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17 NKJV) and the man will achieve understanding of the absoluteness of God’s nature. The man will get the knowledge of God and the power of God’s resurrection, and the fellowships of God’s “sufferings, being confirmed to His death” (Philippians 3:10 NKJV)
It is said in Romans 1:18-23, NKVJ, – the knowledge of God was shown by God to the faithful. From the very moment of creation of the world God’s invisible supernatural attributes were clearly seen by the people, as well as God’s eternal power and Godhead, being comprehensible through the things that were made by God.
The belief in God takes its origin from the moment, when the person acknowledges the gap between God and the person. The faith transcendences God, it takes Him beyond the nature. God is revealed as the supreme, absolute power that is limited by no boundaries. God Himself creates the limits. God’s almightiness is, per se, the concept of the supernatural that was brought up to the logical closure; the concept of omniscience is, therefore, the idea of almightiness in its cognitive and personal aspect. Almighty Absolute is cognized by the person through revelation.
God reveals Himself in the capacity of fundamental principle and absolute ideal of ethical good. The idea of revelation is the necessary consummation of religious conscience, as far as in divine revelation alone the religious conscience of the faithful believer achieves its completeness and comprehensiveness, – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:2-3 NKJV).
III. The Existence of God
The Holy Scripture proves no concept of the existence of God, but considers it to be self-evident. However, some people doubt the existence of God. The Holy Scripture reveals God’s nature, while striving not to argue the concept of the existence of God. Veritable truth, as well as veritable faith needs no evidence of God’s existence. The Divine Spirit witnesses the believer that he is the child of God. Nevertheless, there are universal arguments in support of the existence of God, which cannot be questioned.
First of all, the existence of God is witnessed by faith. One can read in the very beginning of the Holy Scripture, – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This phrase summarizes the solemn truth: the faithful believers accept the existence of God as the act of faith.
Yet, as claimed by Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve (1983), some theologians like Karl Barth and Soren Kierkegaard deny the argumentation of natural or general theology and assert that it is impossible to know God solely by the act of faith. Despite their criticism, the veritable faith is not unreasonable, because faith is a gift of God, as it is written in Romans 10:17.
The there are also evidences that support the veritable faith, – “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve also claim that the Holy Scripture contains the evidences in support of a natural theology, as it is illustrated by Romans 1:19-21 KNJV.
Natural theology addresses the issues of a Wise, Powerful and Benevolent Creator. At the same time, it addresses no issues of suffering, sin, or pain as well as tells nothing about the man’s need of a Redeemer. It is also necessary to take into account that the arguments in support of the existence of God, provided by the natural theology can give us no affirmation with John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”, and, being the finite and limited, are unable to provide with the sound arguments in support of the existence of God, who is infinite and almighty.
Theistic arguments also cannot refute the assumption that all inductive hypotheses of God’s existence are probability arguments. It can be illustrated by J.O. Boswell’s saying, cited in “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology” (1983). According to him, no argument exists able to lead to more than a highly probable conclusion. He explains it by the example of the sun: the vast majority of people have a firm belief in fact that the sun will rise tomorrow in the morning. At the same time, this argument can be characterized only by the probability of the fact that this may occur.
For the faithful believers the arguments in support of the existence of God are unable to replace the divine revelation. They are also unable to retain faith. These arguments may be examined as additional comfort to the faithful believer calming his fears and anxiety, thus providing him more time for the attentive hearing of God, because true belief in God may be revealed through God alone.
So, as it is provided in “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology” (1983), the arguments in support of the existence of God are as follows:
- The Arguments from Reason
This argument is often referred to as the argument of cause and effect. According to it, everything that exists is the effect. The objects around us exist due to several reasons:
- The nature of their existence is eternal. It is hardly to occur that all objects around us exist eternally. The second rule of thermodynamics may be used to refute this assumption, as far as in case the sun exists eternally, it should lose energy by a measurable rate and, in such a way, it should already have been depleted.
- The objects were created from nothing. This assumption can be refuted easily, as far as nothing is unable to create something.
- They were caused by something. Logically, this assumption seems to be the most probable.
Further the argument proceeds to the reason that the person already has an innate knowledge of God. According to Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve (1983), the absolute belief in a supernatural creature can serve evidence to the argument from the reason. The man has a need to worship somebody, to adore somebody, to believe in some being able to explain the events occurring in his life, and to establish a kind of order. What is even more interesting, even the atheist, despite his denial of God’s existence, may serve the evidence to this argument, as far as atheist, by denying the existence of God, reveals himself being confronted with the idea of God.
- The Arguments from Nature
Another set of arguments ascends to Nature, as far as when we start exploring nature, we come to conclusion that everything in nature was created having a certain purpose in Creator’s mind. Everything in nature obeys to a certain order and everything is created to retain the nature’s balance. This assumption may be illustrated by the examples of the earth and its axis, chemical composition of the atmosphere, and the ideal distance to the Sun, to mention a few.
- The Arguments from History
These arguments are based primarily on the concept of Divine Providence, however, with the exception that God is not obligatory the cause of every event that occurs in our life, despite the fact that He controls them pursuing His own purposes.
The Holy Scripture places high emphasis on Jesus Christ, revealing Him in the capacity of the hope of a redeemer for the faithful believers. God reveals the knowledge about Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ is the final word of His Father, and there will be no other revelation except of Him.
God appealed to the believers through prophets, saints and angels; further he continued to give the people knowledge about Himself through Jesus Christ. Therefore, a divine pattern is in incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of His Son.
- The Arguments from The Human Soul
These arguments are primarily based on two main concepts: the person’s moral nature and the assumption that the person has a God’s image inside. The Holy Scripture also confirms that the person was created in the image and likeness of God, – “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness […] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27 KJV)
It is further continued by John that the man shouldn’t try to find God’s image in the man (in the physical appearance), because God is Spirit (John 4:24). On contrary, it is better to search for the God’s image in the moral nature of the man. This leads to conclusion that the image of God is inside the man, and as claimed by Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve (1983), this personal God makes us responsible for our behavior and our morality. Finally, the scriptural code of ethics perfectly fits the moral nature of the man.
- The Arguments from the Holy Scripture
The Holy Scripture itself contains the infinite set of arguments in support of the existence of God. First of all, the Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is “profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, King James Version). Peter also confirms it, claiming that the divine prophecy appeared not in “old time by the will of man”, but was given through “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21, KJV). The same in 1 Corinthians – “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which Is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (2:12-13 KJV).
The Holy Scripture was inspired by God. It can be compared to God’s breathe, as it is full of life and divine power. When the believer hears the Word of God, he strengthens his faith and his moral nature becomes stronger. Word of God is the source of spiritual riches. Strong faith, saint life are impossible without it. The Holy Scripture is a kind of encyclopedia of Christian life. It is a guidebook, which, being an absolutely spiritual and religious book, affects all spheres of the believer’s life. The Holy Scripture is a spiritual and moral teaching revealing the knowledge of the nature of God.
The Holy Scripture contains no all-embracing comprehensive definition of God, explaining that it is impossible to give the exact definition, if “the heaven of heavens cannot contain [Him]” (1 Kings 8:27). Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve (1983) provide theological definition of God from Westminster Catechism that can be cited here as a case in point, – “God is a Spirit, Infinite, Eternal, and Unchangeable in His Being, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Truth”. Holy Scripture contains some statements in support of this definition. Thus, God is “Spirit” (John 4:24), “Light” (1 John 1:15), “Love” (1 John 4:8), and a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Basically, the nature of God ascends to four aspects of His divineness: He is Spirit, he is Perfect, He is Personal, and He is the only One.
This is the doctrine of God as it is explored within the frameworks of Christianity. Yet, there are some different views denying the validity of the Doctrine of God, such as Atheism (the science that denies the existence of divine being), Agnosticism (although the science doesn’t deny the existence of God, it claims that it is impossible to get the knowledge of God, e.g. God cannot be cognized by the human being), Materialism (considers that spiritual beings cannot exist in material world), Pantheism (From ‘theos’ – God, and ‘pan’ – all. According to it, God is everything, He is Nature), Polytheism (according to it, there are plenty of divine beings, – the belief in many gods), Deism (although the Deist has belief in God, he considers that God is transcendent but ‘absentee’), Dualism (according to Dualism, there are two opposite reams (one of matter and one of spirit)).
- The Names of God
The very definition of name has several meanings. Basically, the name means something by which an object is known. Another definition of name implies the attribute, origin, or characteristic of the object named. The Holy Scripture contains plenty of God’s names; Elohim (mighty and strong) is the first name provided by the Holy Scripture to name God (Genesis 1:1). There are many other names, such as El (“God, god, mighty one, strength” (Deuteronomy 32:4), El Elyon (“The Most High”), El Olam (“The Everlasting”), El Shaddai (“The Almighty”), Adonai or Adon, Jehovah (God’s name being referred to as Redeemer), Theos, Kurios, Pater, and other compound names of God.
- The Attributes of God
The Divine Attributes can be classified in compliance with two main categories: the attributes that only God has (Absolute Attributes) and the attributes that can be shared with people (Moral Attributes).
God’s Absolute Attributes are:
- Self-existence – God is the Absolute Source of all being and all life, being the Eternal Living God (John 5:26; Colossians 1:17)
- Immutability – God is unchangeable, with attributes of sameness and invariableness (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8);
- Eternity – God is eternal, immortal and everlasting, being “an Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (1Timothy 1:17; Exodus 3:14; Revelation 22:13)
- Omnipresence – God is present everywhere and no one can hide from Him, as he fills earth and heaven (Jeremiah 23:23-24; 1 Kings 8:27b; Matthew 28:20)
- Omniscience – all knowledge and all wisdom in Him. God (Psalm 139:1-4; Act 5:1-11; Revelation 2:1-3:22)
- Omnipotence – God has great power and there is nothing too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17; Daniel 4:35)
- Divine Power – The Church of Jesus Christ can be examined as one of the examples of divine power (Acts 17:6)
- Resurrection Power – Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death is an illustrative evidence of the exceeding greatness of God’s power (Ephesians 1:19-2:6)
- Sovereignty – God is Sovereign over spirits and angels. Finally, it is perfectly illustrated in Ephesians (1:4-5), – “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”
Guy P. Duffield, Nathaniel M. Van Cleeve. (1983). The Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. Los Angeles: L.I.F.E Bible College.
The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1999). New York: American Bible Society.